I have been the lucky recipient of some wonderful thank you notes recently. A friend who comes over for dinner on a fairly regular basis always sends a heartfelt thank you note, every time. My co-blogger Joan sent me a note that was a work of art. She not only thanked me in a meaningful specific way, she also penned some wonderful, thoughtful words about our friendship and told me how much and why she admired me. The thank you note was better than any gift I could have given her!
It used to be a custom: when someone does something nice for you, you send them a formal note.The many, documented benefits to expressing gratitude are just as important today as back in the days when thank you notes were prevelant. But this nicety is fading away. In fact, it is almost a lost art. It will only survive when vigilant mothers set the protocol and insist that their children follow it.
My sister-in-law Judy is one of those well brought up people who insisted her children follow suit. My nephews sent me thank you notes for all their Christmas presents — every year! I know it was hard work for them, but it was so wonderful! I appreciated it so much I thought I should send them a thank you note for their thank you notes.
OK, my mother was right (yet again).
But I always hated writing thank you notes as a kid. I would procrastinate as long as possible any time I had to write one. When I was about 10, I got a nice gift from my grandmother and my mother said ‘why don’t you write the thank you note right away and get it done?’ I equivocated. To increase the pressure my mother advised I should do it before the impending price increase of stamps. My Uncle Ralph overheard her nagging me. He took me aside and gave me a quarter. “Take your time writing that note,” he said, with a twinkle in his eye. I now chuckle every time I find myself procrastinating, remembering him. Thanks Uncle Ralph!
Among my mother’s papers (which I have still not finished sorting) I found a lovely thank you note to my mother from cousin Peggy. She was in eighth grade and had beautiful penmanship. It was well written and interesting. I also found a thank you note from cousin Lisa to me. It touched my heart, again, after all these years.
Yes. It is definitely a lost art – a well written letter expressing sincere gratitude.
It turns out one of the secrets to a happy life is learning how to express gratitude and learning how to express it well. Actually listing each blessing in your life, alphabetically every day, brings inner peace and helps control depression. (Well, maybe the ‘alphabetically’ part is optional! Today my overwhelming gratitude is for having healthy children.) But I think the concept of expressing our gratitude for someone else, especially if they did something nice for us, is worthwhile. Even if it takes some time, to sit down and think of the exact words to express our feelings and then let someone know how grateful we are for the kindness and love they have shown us, it is time well spent. It makes us happy and certainly spreads that happiness around.
copyright Jane F. Collen February 21, 2017 IndexCardCure formally practicing gratitude